Sport Northern Ireland has welcomed the announcement that three talent coaches from Northern Ireland are among the 22 selected for the sports coach UK talent coaching programme Aspire 2015/2016.

Debbie Hanna (Sailing), Peter Hill (Swimming) and Stephen Hood (Golf) will join 19 other coaches from across the Home Countries to undertake the 18-month training programme which aims to develop expertise among coaches working at the talent development stage of the athlete performance pathway.

The Aspire Training Programme was launched by sports coach UK, the national agency for coaching, in 2012. The programme offers participants the opportunity to expand their coaching insight, knowledge and practice to further support the needs of their athletes and teams.

Welcoming the announcement, Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown said: “Sport Northern Ireland would like to congratulate the three Northern Ireland coaches who are among those taking part in the latest Aspire training programme. Over 40 nominations were received from across the Home Countries and, with only 22 places available, the calibre of these three individuals is clearly high.

“Skilled and committed coaches are at the heart of a successful sporting system, and those working at the talent development stage are crucial in harnessing the potential of young athletes and ensuring they continue to engage with and develop in their sport. The Aspire Programme is a fantastic opportunity to learn and network with coaches from across the UK Talent system and our three coaches are very fortunate to be receiving this level of support.  We wish them well for their Aspire experience and are confident they will be able to continue to develop as coaches and make an impact in local sport.”